Thursday, July 8, 2010
I love a cowl top--very flattering for a small bust--and Simplicity 2594 has some nice design elements. I like the pleats at the front shoulder and the shoulder yoke with back gathers. I cut the front on the bias and the back on the grain, because I wanted to deal with as little bias as possible. I probably should have cut the back on the bias as well, however, as the hang in the back is not nearly as nice as in the front. I bought this polyester chiffon giraffe print fabric online ages ago, probably sometime in 2007, intended to be part of an "Orange Juice and Lemonade" orange and yellow wardrobe. Stashbusting is good (although I still have quite a bit of this left). It's lined with what I believe is a rayon lining, from Jomar sometime last year for $1/yd.
This is part of my endless combinations wardrobe plan of pencil skirts and blousier tops. A red and an orange skirt are both part of the plan (red is done), and this will go with either. Unfortunately, once summer hit I realized that my wardrobe plan is nonsensical as wearing a high-waisted pencil skirt in high heat causes me to sweat intensely where the waistband stifles my torso and arrive at work beyond damp and into dripping. No wonder I make so many dresses! So I can basically only wear these outfits during our two week Spring (if that) and two week Fall (more reliable). Some of the skirts will go into winter with boots, but the tops are sleeveless and springy. *sigh*
Although this pattern has nice design and the pieces matched up fairly well, being a Simplicity pattern it is missing some things such as a partial front facing. If you self-line the top, you don't need a front facing, but I was working with a sheer polyester chiffon that needed an opaque lining. I cut a front facing of fashion fabric to an inch below the armscye. When sewing the front neck seam I layered the pieces as: front facing, fashion fabric front, lining, and then flipped the front facing to the inside.
I don't have the instructions right now to refer to, but I am sure they were nonsense. I constructed this by first putting together the front, lining, and facing as described above, then basting the back and back lining together at the upper edge.
Next, sew the front shoulder seam by layering: yoke fashion fabric, front (with front facing flipped to inside so it is front fashion, front lining, front facing) all pieces pleated as one, and yoke lining. This means you have a total of five slippery layers at the shoulder while trying to sew the pleats into the front shoulder, so pin well. Others had mentioned that the markings for the pleats don't end up working out very well when you have a bias piece, so I mostly ignored them and just did my best to put three pleats into the front shoulder approximately evenly on both sides.
Next, I sewed the yoke lining to the back unit (back fashion and lining basted together at the top), lining fabric against lining fabric. I was hoping to be able to stitch the yoke as a burrito-type thing (side seams are still free at this point), but it is too short to roll up the entire blouse into it. So instead I turned under the yoke fashion fabric and topstitched in place. (I believe the instructions tell you to sew the fashion fabric first and then turn under and topstitch the lining; MUCH easier to topstitch the outer fabric instead so you can actually see what you're doing.)
Once the front, yoke, and back were all put together, I did French seams for the sides, catching in all the layers--fashion fabric, front facing, and lining--as one.
That just left the hem and the armscyes. I did not do a great job with the armscye; I don't know if the bias foiled me here or what but the gray lining pooches out in the back. I'm sure I should pick it out and re-do it. Maybe in the Fall when I can actually wear this outfit!
In wearing, I found that it was hard to keep the front cowl arranged nicely, as the neckline wanted to spread open and fall off the shoulders. Very annoying. I experimented with twill tape to see if I could ease the back neck into it to shorten and stabilize, but it didn't do anything. So then I started thinking about what I could do to the front to keep it there and hit upon the idea of using a weight. I used to have a ready-to-wear cowl top that had a weight at the bottom of the front facing, so I am sure it is a common thing. I sewed square of stable fabric with a heavy coin inside it (a $5 coin from Hong Kong!) to the inside of the front facing and it now wears perfectly.
I'm really happy with this top. The design elements lived up to their promise and it was not that hard or time-consuming to sew, and if you use a more stable fabric it would be even easier (though there is a limit to how much body a fabric can have and still look good). It really needs the belt to look nice--at least on my figure. On a bustier woman you might get away with no belt.
I really need to up my game on bias projects. The armscye and the hem on this are pretty bad (the hem is uneven, which I hide by blousing over the belt but you can still totally tell). I've never really bothered to figure out how to sew bias nicely and just avoid it whenever possible. It does create a nice drape, though.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.